On this day in history (December 29, 1890): The Wounded knee Massacre

Wounded knee massacre - Mass Grave
U.S. troops posing for a photo beside a mass grave dug for the victims of the massacre at Wounded Knee

December 29, 1890:

Chief Spotted Elk was deathly sick with pneumonia. His band of Lakota set off in the snow from Cheyenne River to seek shelter with Red Cloud at Pine Ridge reservation. They were intercepted by Major Samuel Whitside and a battalion of the Seventh Cavalry and escorted five miles to Wounded Knee Creek.

That evening (just a few weeks after the murder of Sitting Bull), Colonel James Forsyth arrived to take command and ordered his guards to place four rapid-fire Hotchkiss guns in position under cover of darkness around the camp.

The soldiers then came into the camp and began disarming the Lakota at gunpoint. A scuffle broke out between one of the Lakota and a group of soldiers, causing a rifle to go off, and the Army opened fire on the encampment. The families with their children tried to run for cover, but were cut down by the rapid crossfire of the Hotchkiss guns and rifles (and most of the few who did manage to escape were methodically hunted down and killed, or died of exposure). Ultimately 300 people were killed, and were afterwards buried in a mass grave at the site of the massacre.

Twenty of the soldiers that day were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Bodies lying in the snow after the massacre at Wounded Knee

Misdiagnosing the culture of violence

“American culture is a violent culture; it has always been a violent culture. […] A sick society produces sick people. A society in which many forms of violence are valorized will produce many incarnations of violence that are not. This does not excuse the killer’s actions, or rationalize his motivations, but it is an honest assessment of factors which produce such behavior and which [gun control] legislation and medicalization will not succeed in muffling. […]

In a classic study of the relationship between war and violence within war-making societies, Dane Archer uses historical, cross-national data to demonstrate how war making produces significant and consistent elevations in homicide rates among ordinary citizens. The legitimation and sanctioning of murder, atrocities and the targeting of civilians in war causes an increase in murder at home. […] Criminalizing all those labeled as mentally ill or (attempting) to make guns harder to get will not change that basic universal precursor to all atrocious acts – that of seeing other people as not worthy of life.”

— Mike King, “Misdiagnosing the culture of violence” (Counterpunch, December 18, 2012)

In the US, mass child killings are tragedies. In Pakistan, mere bug splats.

From “In the US, mass child killings are tragedies. In Pakistan, mere bug splats” (George Monbiot, The Guardian, December 17, 2012

“[…] what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world’s concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world’s newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why.

If the victims of Mr Obama’s drone strikes are mentioned by the state at all, they are discussed in terms which suggest that they are less than human. The people who operate the drones, Rolling Stone magazine reports, describe their casualties as ‘bug splats’, ‘since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed’. Or they are reduced to vegetation: justifying the drone war, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser Bruce Riedel explained that ‘you’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back’ […]

Like George Bush’s government in Iraq, Obama’s administration neither documents nor acknowledges the civilian casualties of the CIA’s drone strikes in north-west Pakistan. But a report by the law schools at Stanford and New York universities suggests that during the first three years of his time in office, the 259 strikes for which he is ultimately responsible killed between 297 and 569 civilians, of whom at least 64 were children. These are figures extracted from credible reports: there may be more which have not been fully documented.

The wider effects on the children of the region have been devastating. Many have been withdrawn from school because of fears that large gatherings of any kind are being targeted. There have been several strikes on schools since Bush launched the drone programme that Obama has expanded so enthusiastically: one of Bush’s blunders killed 69 children.

The study reports that children scream in terror when they hear the sound of a drone. A local psychologist says that their fear and the horrors they witness is causing permanent mental scarring. Children wounded in drone attacks told the researchers that they are too traumatised to go back to school and have abandoned hopes of the careers they might have had. Their dreams as well as their bodies have been broken.”

3 Palestinian children killed by Israeli tank shell in Gaza

Palestinian children killed by the IDF - Israeli tank shell kills 3 kids in Gaza / Zeitoun
A Palestinian man reacts in front of the bodies of three children killed by an Israeli tank shell, one of them his son, at Shifa hospital in Gaza, January 5, 2009. The Israeli tank shell murdered the three Palestinian children in their home in eastern Gaza City on Monday. Several other Palestinians were wounded in the incident in Gaza’s Zeitoun neighbourhood. (REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)